OCTOBER  4, 2016

Reviving the spirit of the weekly Seniom Sed party, Commons Off the Clock makes its debut Thursday with the music of Boogie Wonderland.

In olden days of yore (the 1980s and '90s), revelers flocked downtown on Fridays for Seniom Sed, starting the weekend off with a beer and some tunes. Those were summertime glory days for Nollen Plaza. The plaza was recreated as Cowles Commons, so why not recreate the weekly bash?

That's the question raised by Des Moines Performing Arts, which manages the Commons. Their answer? Commons Off the Clock, starting Thursday, Oct. 6. (By the way, unlike Seniom Sed, Commons Off the Clock spells nothing backwards.)

This happy hour event starts at 5 p.m. with music by Boogie Wonderland, the Iowa Craft Beer Tent and local food trucks. For this year, Commons Off the Clock is a one-time event, but organizers hope to make it a regular part of downtown Des Moines when warmer weather returns in 2017. Admission is free. 
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This brief video production by a Des Moines student was honored at the White House.


Fez Zafar
Meeting President Obama in the White House yesterday was "very surreal," says Fez Zafar, a 15-year-old freshman at Roosevelt High School.
Zafar was among 28 students from across the country honored for creative video productions in a White House student film festival that drew some 700 entries. You can
see his award-winning film, "The Road to Unity," by clicking on the image above.
About 20 actors, most from Roosevelt and Valley high schools, were involved in the project, each representing their ancestral homelands, says Zafar, whose family came from Pakistan. The young videographer has created a number of other productions that can be found here.
"The Road to Unity" was inspired by photos from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Zafar says. He was touched by images of multiple ethnicities "marching arm in arm."
Zafar's message of cultural inclusiveness is made more powerful by two challenges he set for himself: shooting the complex video in a single continuous shot, then painstakingly editing each second, so that some figures appear at times in black-and-white and others in color. The meticulous editing took about 50 hours at his computer. The fundamental message, Zafar says, is "when we come together, we bring color to our world."
Zafar and his parents, Dr. Sawad Zafar and Mashal Husain, were at the White House Sunday and Monday, and this weekend they'll be in New York to see his project shown in Times Square.
Speaking from Washington, D.C., last night, Fez Zafar was still excited about meeting the president. "I was planning on asking him to be in one of my movies. There wasn't time, but it was a lot of fun." And today? "I'll be back in class."
"X: Celebrating a Decade of Art Noir" slips into the shadows Saturday.

Art Noir, the group that has more fun than anyone else at the Des Moines Art Center, has a party Saturday, Oct. 8, to celebrate its 10th anniversary, and the theme is all noir -- the whimsical, melodramatic darkness of their identity.
So from 8 p.m. to midnight, expect to see provocative femme fatales, rogues and villains among the crowd at the Art Center. They'll have a costume contest, music by NOLA Jazz Band and other fun details to be found here. And they offer this Pinterest board to inspire you.

It's playful fun for grown-ups, so you must be 21 or over to attend. Advance  
tickets at the Art Center's information desk are $20 for members, $30 for non-members. Tickets on Saturday are $40.
Three-piece "Grasses" by Tilda Brown Swanson is part of her Falling Seasons series.

An exhibit of colorful art glass has been a pleasant surprise for recent patrons of
Zanzibar's Coffee Adventure on Ingersoll.

More than 30 nature-inspired images by local artist Tilda Brown Swanson are featured in her first show in Des Moines since 2012. Her work is also at galleries in Ames and Iowa City has been exhibited in national art glass galleries.
Swanson's fused glass pieces will be at Zanzibar's through Oct. 23. Abstract and whimsical, the artwork is created from cut and powdered glass, including elements in relief that highlight the richness of color and the optical qualities of glass.
Zanzibar's, at 2723 Ingersoll Ave., is open daily.
Visual and performance artist Rob Stephens rocks Thursday in "1,000 Words or More."


Moberg Gallery on Ingersoll will host the second "1,000 Words or More," a reading and performance series presented by Nomadic Press, on Thursday, Oct. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. The focus is on identity, gender, race and vulnerability.
Artists incude Akwi Nji, who writes primarily for performance rather than publication. A 2016 Iowa Arts Council Fellow, her performance poetry is both deeply personal and strikingly universal.
Rob Stephens of Des Moines creates semiautobiographical art with paint, silkscreen, comics and monumental woodcut prints. He currently teaches at Grandview University and the Des Moines Art Center. Stephens will close out the evening with his new rock opera.
Also presenting their work Thursday are writers and artists Christine Koschmeider and Amy Letter. Learn more about each of the artists and the presentation here.

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